Mayor, veto Miami unfair and unnecessary redistricting maps
Who really benefits from Miami’s redesigned district maps?
Is it Commissioner Joe Carollo, who would be allowed to legally reside in his longtime home?
Is it Commissioner Christine King, who is keeping a downtown property slated to be turned into a luxury real estate transaction?
Is it Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, whose district would take more waterfront properties along the Miami River?
Or the people of the city of Miami?
These are the questions Mayor Francis Suarez should ask himself before deciding whether or not to sign on the map the commission adopted on March 24 redrawing the five political districts of the city. Suarez has 10 days from that date to decide whether or not to veto the card. The redistricting process is necessary every decade to adjust political boundaries based on population changes in the US Census.
If Suarez asks these questions, a veto should be the only answer.
As of Thursday, he had yet to announce a decision and his spokeswoman told the Herald editorial board that he was analyzing the map.
At stake is the future political representation of Miami’s oldest neighborhood, Coconut Grove and its historic black population. Despite having a relatively small area population, the grove wielded strong political influence. This is partly thanks to the fact that the entire grove is currently contained within District 2, represented by Commissioner Ken Russell. Residents are also among the most engaged in the city in their fight to preserve the area’s historic character and green spaces.
Under the redistricting plan, the grove would be divided into three districts – and further dilute the political clout of black residents. This would require citizens to come before three different commissioners with different philosophies to be heard on issues. This means that they would constitute a smaller and less powerful part of the electorate in these constituencies.
The new map would move 100 black households from West Grove to District 4 – a blow to a community that risks being displaced by gentrification.
Another section of Grove called Natoma Manors, where Carollo has owned a home for 20 years, would move to his District 3. Currently, Carollo cannot live in this home without breaking the rules that require him to legally reside in District 3. the limits would allow him to leave a rental in Little Havana and return.
Is it just a coincidence that the redrawn boundaries of District 3 spring up as an annex to cover Carollo’s former home? In Miami politics, such coincidences are usually not the case.
The NAACP sent a letter to Suarez asking for a veto, saying “we have a duty to protect our democracy and prevent unjust redistricting plans that threaten equal representation under the law.” The consultants the city hired to redesign the districts say they complied with federal voting rights law.
Whether or not there is a legal argument to be made, shouldn’t be Suarez’s only concern.
Residents of Coconut Grove organized into a grassroots group called “One Grove”, which showed up en masse to order hearings and garnered 2,200 petition signatures against the plan. They are upset that the public input part of the process seems like a sham – and they are right to be. Why should they trust the commission when they faced what they called “a disgraceful circus of shame” by Carollo and Diaz de la Portilla in public meetings? Reprimanding citizens from the dais has been the MO of these two commissioners for far too long.
If Suarez wants to send a strong message, he should use his veto power to pressure the commission to increase the number of neighborhoods in the city. Miami’s population has grown from just under 400,000 in 2010 to over 442,000 in 2020, and District 2’s rapid growth prompted city consultants to divide the grove. Five commissioners are not enough to ensure adequate representation in a booming city. Similar-sized cities like Atlanta have more reps.
The Miami City Commission had the chance to go this route early in the process, but chose not to. Why would they when it would dilute their own power? That’s the problem with this redistricting process — it seems to be more about power than representation for Miamians.
BEHIND OUR REPORTS
What is an editorial?
Editorials are opinion pieces that reflect the opinions of the Miami Herald Editorial Board, a group of opinion journalists that operates separately from the Miami Herald newsroom. Members of the Miami Herald editorial board are: Nancy Ancrum, editorial page editor; Amy Driscoll, Associate Editorial Page Editor; and columnists Luisa Yanez and Isadora Rangel. Find out more by clicking on the arrow at the top right.
What is the difference between an editorial and a column?
editorialsshort for “across from the editorial page”, are opinion pieces written by contributors who are not affiliated with our Editorial Board.
Columns are recurring opinion pieces that represent the views of staff columnists who regularly appear on the Opinion Page.
How does the editorial board of the Miami Herald decide what to write about?
The editorial board, made up of confirmed opinion journalists, primarily addresses local and state issues that affect South Florida residents. Each board member has an area of interest, such as education, COVID, or local government policy. Board members meet daily and discuss a range of topics. Once a topic has been thoroughly discussed, board members will report the issue further, interviewing stakeholders and others involved and affected, so that the board can present the most informed opinion possible. We strive to provide our community with thought leadership that champions policies and priorities that strengthen our communities. Our editorials promote social justice, equity in economic, educational and social opportunity and an end to systemic racism and inequality. The Editorial Board is separate from the Miami Herald’s reporters and newsroom editors.
How can I contribute to the Opinion section of the Miami Herald?
The Editorial Board welcomes 650-700 word opinion submissions from community members who wish to advance a specific point of view or idea that is relevant to our region. You can send an opinion submission by e-mail to [email protected] We also welcome 150-word letters to the editor from readers who wish to offer their views on current issues. For more information on how to submit a letter, go to here.